December 11, 2000
Holiday turkey safety guide
Make sure your holiday turkey leaves you feeling happy and festive.
Recommended Methods - There are two recommended methods for thawing turkey: refrigerator thawing and cold- water thawing. The important rule to remember for both methods is to keep your turkey cold while thawing. Do not thaw turkey on a kitchen counter.
Refrigerator Method - Place turkey or turkey parts on a tray in the refrigerator in their original wrapping. For whole turkey, allow 24 hours for each 5 pounds. To defrost turkey breast, allow 1 to 2 days. To defrost turkey parts, allow 24 hours.
Cold -Water Method - Place turkey or turkey parts in their original wrapping under cold water in sink or deep pan. Change water as often as needed to keep it cold. For whole turkey, allow 30 minutes for each pound. For turkey breast, 4 to 8 hours. For turkey parts, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Two-Hour Safety Zone - Plan to serve, eat and store leftovers from your holiday dinner within 2 hours from taking it out of the oven. Bacteria that causes food poisoning can multiply to dangerous levels on food that is left at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
No Partial Cooking - Never partially cook a turkey and finish cooking later. This may cause food poisoning. Slow cooking at very low oven temperatures is not recommended.
Never Stuff Ahead - Do not stuff turkey ahead of time. Combine only the dry ingredients the day before. If you don't have a large enough bowl, use a turkey size oven bag to combine dry ingredients. When ready to stuff the turkey, add remaining stuffing ingredients to the oven bag and toss and mix. To bake, transfer stuffing to the cavity of the turkey or to a foil-lined pan. For food safety, the stuffing temperature must reach 165 F. when cooked.
Do Not Reheat Whole Turkey - Reheating a whole turkey risks loss of moisture and fresh taste. If you must prepare the turkey ahead of time, slice the roasted turkey and place it in a foil-lined pan. Spoon chicken broth over the turkey to prevent drying. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Reheat in foil covered pan in 350 F. oven until hot.
Storage Times for Leftovers:
Cooked Turkey: 3 to 4 days; stuffing and gravy: 1 to 2 days; other cooked dishes: 3 to 4 days.
Turkey, plain: 4 months; turkey in broth or gravy: 6 months; cooked poultry dishes: 4 to 6 months; stuffing and gravy: 1 month.
Reheated Leftovers - Temperatures of reheated leftovers should reach 165 F. and if reheating gravy alone it should come to a rolling boil.
1-800-745-4000. A 24-hour-a-day automated Turkey Tips Hotline with detailed instructions for four turkey cooking methods and easy, safe defrosting tips.